|Seahawks Win Fourth CAA Tennis Crown|
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia – Displaying the dominance that has been prevalent during their current nine-match winning streak, UNCW won its fourth Colonial Athletic Association men’s tennis championship with a 4-0 victory over the College of Charleston early Sunday at William & Mary’s Millie West Tennis Facility.
The 46th-ranked and top-seeded Seahawks earned the CAA’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and pushed their record to 15-6 on the season. The College of Charleston, rated 66th by the ITA, was making its first appearance in the tourney and owns an 18-6 record.
The shutout gave the Seahawks back-to-back titles and their fourth CAA crown in six years. UNCW has now won the men’s championship in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
"It was a real challenge for us as the No. 1 seed going in, but I was very pleased with how our guys handled it," said Mait DuBois, UNCW's seventh-year head coach. "Winning the conference championship is always a goal for us and it's a relief to know that we accomplished one of our goals.
"You have to give a lot of credit to the College of Charleston. They brought a lot of energy into the match and it was an intense match and a lot of fun."
UNCW successfully defended its title Sunday with the same recipe it has used over the last month. The Seahawks have shut out three of their last four opponents and improved to 6-4 against nationally-ranked teams with Sunday’s convincing win over the Cougars.
The Seahawks took control of the CAA final early by claiming the doubles point behind the No. 1 and No. 2 tandems. The No. 2 team of Pedro Mol and Kaue Pereira dominated Rodrigo Encinas and Crescente Lesser, 8-2, to be the first off the court and CAA Player-of-the-Year Rafael Aita paired with Sam Williams for an 8-5 decision against Brice Allanic and Alon Faiman to secure the point.
In singles, Aita, ranked 48th, crushed Allanic, 6-2, 6-1, at the top of the lineup to give the Seahawks a 2-0 advantage and Pereira increased the margin to 3-0 with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Zack Lewis at the No. 4 position. Sophomore Santtu Leskinen then delivered the championship clincher with a 6-1, 6-2 pounding of Charlie Ghriskey at No. 5 singles.
Aita took over sole possession of No. 2 on UNCW’s all-time singles wins list, passing former great John Shackelford. The Lima, Peru, product has compiled a 63-17 record over the last four seasons, second only to Kinshuk Sharma (2007-11) at 65-24.
The UNCW men, who have been ranked as high as No. 44 this spring, now wait for the pairings for the NCAA Regionals. The Seahawks went 1-1 in the NCAA’s last May, upsetting No. 18 South Carolina before losing to No. 9 Duke in the Durham Regional.
2014 CAA Men’s Tennis Championships
April 18-20, 2014 – College of William & Mary – Williamsburg, Va.
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Quarterfinals
#2 College of Charleston 4, #7 Delaware 0
#3 William & Mary 4, #6 Hofstra 0
#4 James Madison 4, #5 Drexel 0
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Semifinals
#1 UNCW 4, #4 JMU 0
#2 College of Charleston 4, #3 William & Mary 0
Sunday, April 20, 2014 – Championships
#1 UNCW 4, #2 College of Charleston 0